When printing on any type of fabric, the texture of the fabric itself will affect the appearance of the print. The smoother the substrate, the better the print will look and feel. This is especially true of DTG prints. The specially formulated DTG ink only adheres to cotton or similar organic fibers. The cotton acts as a sponge that soaks up the ink. Therefore, the more porous the material, the more ink is absorbed and the vibrancy is reduced. Ringspun cotton provides a smoother, less porous surface and a much better print than carded cotton does. When choosing t-shirts for DTG prints, it is best to search for a 100% ringspun cotton t-shirt for the best quality print. The brands that we've found to print the best are (in no particular order); AS Colour, Cotton Heritage, Lane 7, Smart Blanks, JHK, Bella Canvas, and Next Level.
DTG printers use the same technology as any other inkjet printer. It has a print head on a rail that slides back and forth as it lays down ink. Except your inkjet printer fits on your desk and prints on paper. Ours is about 10x bigger and prints on apparel. In order to print as clear as possible, the apparel needs to be as close to the print head as possible. The further away the garment is from the print head, the less accurate the print can be. This is why we strongly discourage printing over any seams, pockets, zippers, etc. as it requires to move the garment further away from the print head to avoid obstructions. As you can see below, the print on the pocket of the hoodie is much sharper since it was able to be much closer to the print head. It is important to keep this in mind when asking us to print over any uneven surfaces.
When printing Direct to Garment (DTG) on white or light-colored apparel, it is not necessary to print any white ink and only color ink is printed. This results in the softest possible feeling print but since the ink is mostly being absorbed into the fabric, the vibrancy can suffer.
This works well when recreating a "vintage" design but may not achieve the vibrancy that some people may be looking for. Using a similar pretreatment spray that we use when printing on dark garments, we can create an increased vibrancy on white apparel as well. This spray helps decrease the absorption of the ink into the fabric and helps retain as much color as possible on the surface initially. This helps create a much brighter print. Proper care of the garment will help keep it looking bright for a while but it will always end up looking more faded as the fibers of the material relax and unravel slightly.